Excerpt from a short story

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From a short story I am almost done with.  It might be ready to send out now.  At this point, an eccentric artist/street person is explaining a painting to a friend.

“Yeah”  Was all Chris could manage.  He looked through a few canvases and although he was no art critic, he knew they were good.  He picked up a large one that stood out and propped it on the bookshelf.  There was something about this one that drew the eye in.  It was like no painting he had ever encountered.

Red spoke from behind him and he startled a little.  “Like that one, huh?”  Red said.  “Me too.  Best thing I’ve done.  Did it in one night a few years ago.  Stone, cold sober if you can believe it.”

“It’s so …” Words failed Chris.

“Speaks to you.”  Red answered “I know.  It’s called The Silent Aspirations of Bastard Amber.  Bastard Amber is a color gel used in theater lighting.  It can also be a paint color, and that’s the beautiful thing about it.  It’s a color open to interpretation.”

“Yeah?”  Chris managed, not taking his eyes off the painting.

Red pointed to a place on the picture.  “Here’s the Bastard Amber.  And here and here and back here.  And you step back and look at this painting as a whole and it’s us.  It’s me and you and, like the people, man.  And we’re back there like the Bastard Amber and we are open to interpretation man because that’s what life is.  And see all of this up here, the big stuff?  It’s all moving around and swirling and huge and dominating and it’s in control.”  Chris glanced at Red.  And in saw the old Red of intellect and passion, of drive and wonder.

Red continued staring at the painting and talking like Chris wasn’t there.  “All this up here, it’s like the government, the corporations, the organizations and all the crap they pile on us the Bastard Amber.  It’s the news and the booze and the dope and the politics and the war and the useless garbage they try to sell us.  They’re pushing us behind and keeping us back.  But look at the Bastard Amber.  Here and here and here.  See what it’s doing?  It’s on the outside and moving up.  The Bastard Amber is saying to all that crap, that garbage; you might be on top now but we are on our way.  And one day.  One day, man.  You’re gonna see us and we won’t be silent no more.  Maybe not in this life.  Maybe in the heaven or nirvana or paradise or whatever you want to call it.  The Bastard Amber is gonna rise and be right up where it belongs.  And all the pain you caused us, it won’t mean nothin no more.  You look, man, you look long enough and you will see.  Here’s your coffee.”

Chris took the cup from Red and the coffee, as promised, was good.

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Story ending

The ending of one of my short stories.  

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She looked at the birds until she heard a rustling behind her.  “Who was that in the crappy car?”  Randall asked from the doorway.

Sandra put down the binoculars and looked at her son.  Same hair, eyes and nose, he even stood with the same casual looseness but she no longer saw Bobby.

Hunter snorted from his chair.  “Salesman.”  He said.  “Hey look Randy.  The jay is back causing trouble.”

Randall took up the binoculars.  “Cool.”

The early afternoon back yard ebbed and flowed with the invariable give and take, the myriad endeavor for place and significance and they watched the swirling, ever changing patterns of the birds.

 

The End

From latest short story

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This story has had a long life.  Originally written about 2010, I wasn’t satisfied with it and left it alone until recently.  Now, revamped and renamed, it may be ready for submission.  I have no clue where the idea for this one came from, usually there is a prompt of some kind.  So, here is an excerpt.

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Bobby was insistent on seeing his father and she explained Hunter’s condition to him.  Silently she noted that he was expert at acting truly concerned as they joined Hunter on the back porch enjoying iced tea and watching the birds flock to the feeders.  Hunter barely looked up when Bobby sat down in front of him.

“Dad, you have a visitor.”  She said happily.

Hunter looked up at her and smiled.  “Thank you love.”  He said and patted her hand.  He looked blankly at Bobby.  “You another doctor?”  He demanded.

Bobby put his hand on the old man’s knee.  “It’s me dad, Bobby.”

Hunter peered at him distrustfully.  “I don’t need another doctor.  You can’t do anything for me anyway.  You people are just after another payment on your Mercedes.”

Hunter looked bewildered at Sandra.  “Do I have a doctor Bobby?”  He asked.  She made no comment.

“No dad.”  He pleaded. “I’m Bobby, your son.”

Hunter looked at him in irritation.  “I don’t know what you are saying.  I don’t have a son.” He looked up at Sandra again imploring then back at Bobby. “I don’t have any children.  My wife died, we never had children.  State your business young man.”

“You remember me don’t you dad?  I’m Bobby.”  He continued.

“You look like that guy on the news.  Who are you?”  Hunter asked irritated.

“I already told you dad.”  Bobby was also irritated now.

“Stop calling me that.  I want you to leave.”  Hunter turned to Sandra.  “Marion, make him leave now.  He looks like that that man on television.”  He fumbled with the binoculars.  “I’m going to look at my birds.”  He mumbled.  With that Hunter raised the binoculars and ignored everyone else.

Bobby looked at Sandra who gave a shrug of her shoulders.  Sandra followed Bobby back to the front door after promising to bring Hunter a refill on his iced tea.

“I told you.”  She said as Bobby stepped out onto the front porch.

“He’s freaking senile.”  He turned back to her.  “I still don’t get you being here.”

From Short Story in progress

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I like this story but it needs some editing.  It’s too long for one thing.  Needs a bit of tightening up.  Overall, it is worth keeping and I will get it there soon.  

Plot is a happening young writer who fancies himself a Hemmingway, goes out to some crummy neighborhood bars as “research” for his book.  It doesn’t go as planned.

 

He walked on and decided that he would not drink at the next place, only eat.  He didn’t think he could stand more alcohol now.  It was dark and the streetlights were dim causing him to stumble more than once over broken pavement.  Red’s Corner was ahead at a distance, it’s ancient neon sign sputtering on and off.  The footsteps sounded behind him and even though on the edge of panic, he glanced back.

A skinny black man with shining teeth was catching up to him.  He spoke “That’s right, a black man following you.”  He laughed but Jonathan found nothing funny.

Jonathan stopped and turned.  He figured that the other man was a twig and barring a knife or firearm, would be no problem for him to take care of himself should it come to that.  “Help you?”  He asked.

“Don’t get the wrong idea now, brother.”  The man laughed and kept walking.  “I’m a peace loving soul.”

The man caught up to Jonathan and kept his hands in plain view.

“Now them clowns back there?” The man continued “If Jerry hadn’t been there you might be in the back of an ambulance now.  Those boys back there”  The man pointed behind them “they’s trifling.”

Jonathan decided that the man was most likely harmless.  “Thank Jerry for me.”  He said.

“What you out walking for?”  The man asked. “Car break down?”  Only he said car as “cah”.

Jonathan shrugged in reply.

“Oh no.  I know what it is.”  The man laughed “Had a fight with the old lady now you walking.”  He thought it was hilarious. “I know how it is.  Them women can be rough.”

Jonathan shrugged again and walked on.  The man kept pace with him.

In his novel, this scene was an entire chapter of banter about women meant to show the contrast and commonalities in male and female relationships across the black and white spectrum.

“Going to a friend’s place on Troy Avenue.  Crashing for the night.”  Jonathan offered.

“That’s it.”  The man agreed. “Give her some cool down time.  Don’t you give in and call her now.  Let her go on wondering where you are.”

Jonathan chuckled.  “Thought I would hit some of the bars along the way.”

“I see.  Uh huh.  They’s a good liquor store up here before Red’s Place.  Other side of the street.”  The man said.

“No.  The bars.  I might go in Red’s, if it isn’t like the last place, that is.”  Jonathan said.

“Red’s Place ain’t nothing like T. J.’s.” The man explained. “T.J.’s, you seen what it was.  I don’t like going in there.  Too many trifling fools.  Not Red’s it’s a regular place.  They don’t mess around.”

“OK.”

The man looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “And they’s white in there, much as black.  Ebony and Ivory.”

“OK.”

“Red’s used to be the bar for the brass works what went out of business.  My daddy used to sit in there with his friends from work.”  He explained. “Brass works been gone twenty-five years at least.”

“I remember the brass works.”  Jonathan said, although he had no idea what the man was talking about.

 

More from Bob, P. I.

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About the picture:  It has nothing to do with the story.

An excerpt from Bob, P. I.   It is still under submission at three publishers.


Nick talked to Jan a while longer with Rick taking notes.  Bob busied himself flipping through paperwork, drinking coffee, and looking at things on a computer.  He seemed disinterested in their new client.

Nick showed Jan to the door with a promise to start on the case in the next few days.  He marched back into the workroom steaming.  “What the hell was that all about?”  He asked Bob.

Bob waved him off.  “What you talkin bout Nick?”

“We don’t squeeze people for money.”

“But we aren’t a charity either.  We get paid.  We are a for profit business.”

“I thought you liberals were all bleeding hearts.  Not concerned about money.”  Nick added.

“Liberal got nothing to do with it.”  Bob said.  “Business is business, partner.  She pays or we don’t play.  I ain’t just a woofin here.”

Rick cleared his throat and broke in.  “I’ll do it.  If you guys don’t want to.  I’ll do it no charge.”

Nick jerked a thumb in Ricks direction.  “See that?  That’s called heart.  We are taking this case and we will work out the money later.  I’ll pay.”  Nick turned his back on Bob.  “Woofin.  I’ll show you woofin.”

Bob shrugged.  “Groovy.  We can fit in another snoop case.”

Nick looked at his partner for a moment.  “I need some fresh air.”  He said and went for the door.

“Keep on truckin'”  Bob said to his retreating back.

“Shut up.” Nick called from the door.

Shadowed Solitude republished by Literally Stories today

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https://literallystories2014.com/2016/04/22/shadowed-solitude-by-donald-baker/

Literally Stories republished the story Shadowed Solitude which originally came out in 2013 with The Huffington Post.  This isn’t what I consider one of my strongest pieces and one day, when I get ready to compile a short story collection, I will rewrite it.

Literally Stories is a great group of people to deal with.  This is the second of my pieces they picked up.  They are very encouraging and complementary, I can’t thank them enough.